Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Need to run to local meeting now so will return to this later. Joan doing well in telling the truth so far. This is another one for the wealthy-as Dave Begg says the Small Firms Association, IBEC and their fellow travellers have won the day.
Sheila Noonan puts her finger on it in desribing us as disgusted. Pay cut of €3 to €4k on teachers pay. Public sector workers have been singled out and she's right in bringing us back to the truth-Fiann Fáil are serving the masters of industry, the banks and on the backs of public sector workers! Glad to hear determination from Sheila top fight these cuts. Right too on Lenihan's condescension to us at beginning of his speech. Ahern says yes they're bracing themseves for months of industrail strife with a big grin on his face. He takes 5% while I'm expected to take 7% on top of the almost 10% i've already given. Almost a fifth of my wages gone while the super-wealthy pay nothing!
Bruton puts his finger on it now-only €55million from non-resident non-patriots. And who is being brought to book for what has happened in our rotten banks(my description here).

David Begg's reaction-people will be seething and he's right this will be hugely defaltionary. Again he asks the question why is it that Britain's way of spacing it out is wroing and that we are such economic geniuses? David's right again-it's all about driving down wages and Patricia Callan shows her colours-we must increase competitiveness-competitive with who? They want us down to Mongolian figures. The figures about pay cuts from the CSO are lies according to SFA.

And in the Blue Corner

The real cut of Ministers is 5% says richer while public servants on 30k will take more cuts-unfortunately FG has been no friend of the public service in the past year. Think I'll stick with the real opposition. Richard must have been reading my blog for that line on Teddy!:-)

Missed the €16 cut in child benefit. This will have a huge impact in poorer families. Sorry opting over to the analysis on RTÉ 1. Dermot Ahern telling us they looked after Social Welfare recipients- Brian Dobson hitting on the 8% cut in carer's benefit-hitting at the most vulnerable again. There;s nothing here to get anything from the highest earners. This rubbish about the marginal tax rates is just old-fashioned Thatcherism with a bit of 'No New Taxes(unless you're a public servant of course) thrown in. Alex White spot on aboput the impact on people on the edge.

Even Micahael Noonan says it fails the fairness test. The cleaner in your department is taking the same as you! Good man Michael. Brings to mind his best ever moment when he compared the Fianna Fáil minister of the time to Barney Rubble hammering away at the moving stone engine!

Dermot Ahern saying we're engaging in Voodoo economics-lectures from the incompetent and inglorious .........!
Corporation tax is staying the same-it's here to stay. Changes in the finance bill to help the finaincial services sector. A retro-fit programme for environmental improvement-that's welcome and locval councils will get it also-glad to see the greens getting something! Iarnród Éireann will give cheaper travel to visiting elderly people while continuing to jack up the prices for the rest of us. Usiong Teddy Kennedy in the budget-a Kennedy visitor centre. Try keeping our young people at home instead! Here comes the BS-we have in place a plan- we have been fair. Reduced the cost of the public sector. We will save jobs=we have turned the corner-just like the nonsense of 'the fundamentals of the economy are intact' of 2 years ago.
€70 million for flood relief-the excellent work done in Kilkenny cost the guts of that alone and that's what he gives the country! Cross border shopping reaction-excise duty on drink brought down and he thinks that will stop it. Fianna Fáil threatening the publicans-I'm sure that'll worry them, He reverses the half percent VAT rate but nothing further. A car scrappage scheme.
A return from the banks!! A credit review system. You can be guearanteed that checking up on the banks lending to small businesses will never be followed through on. We don't need a committee to ask the banks to give credit-we need a national bank that will do it!
Everyone must make a contribution but no new taxes for the high-rollers in the private sector. The CSO figures told us the truth about the huge numbers in the private sector who have taken no hit. Here somes McCarthy-an efficiency review of local Government-are we getting cuts or not? An investment in school buildings-that'll make a change!
Investment programme for mental health-who's he going to sell the HSE and and buildings top now that the market is flattened. Back to Dev's bonds! More money for training for the poor people who you've thrown onto the dole queues-as long as they're not 20 or 21 of course.
No pay cuts to existing public service pensioners-you remember last year Brian! Here come the Social Welfare cuts-a cut of 4% and a cut down to €100 for young people who find themselves jobless because of your Government's bungling. That should fill the planes and the boats.
There were lengthy negotiations until you pullede the rug from under your boss so you could get away with this nonsense. Reduction of 5% for first 30k and up to 8k for the rest of us. Now he tells us that no tax on lump sum after half of the top grades have retired in fear of it after a year of uncertainty. Not another pension levy! No yellow pack pensions for new entrants so our pensions are as pathetic as the private sector unregulated pension cowboys.
Carbon tax-they'll use the proceeds to end fuel poverty. Tell that to those in receipt of the pathetic fuel allowance for the past decade.They won't believe you and what about the impact on rural people with no public transport alternatives? 20% off Cowen's salary-he'll be just like Barack so. Again the judges will be urged!!! to take a paycut. Time for a referendum to ensure that we decide their rates of pay rather than a voluntary action.

Here comes the action for many of us. 'More is required'.
Mother of God-we have definitely the fairest tax system in Europe don't you know. It has 'progressivity' at its core. Accepted the need for a propoerty tax but it will take some time. Water charges are back but there'll be a free amount. Non-resident taxpayers get off scot-free again-sorry 200,000 for our tax exiles but only if their earnings in Ireland exceeds €5million.
Guess what it's all down to the International economic crisis! And who created this property bubble Brian? Here comes the pain-reduction in labour costs. Wages went up by 70%-for who? We can't borrow but Obama and Brown can. Another IBEC budget so. I'll bet decisive action won't apply to the super-wealthy.

Here we go again-pain for all?

Sitting down to my annual ritual of watching the budget speech. Here we go- everybody thinks we're wonderful in the way we're rebuilding our nation's confidence! €4billion but we'll ignore the recommendation to go to 2014. Let's screw everybody now instead.

The worst IS over!!! That one will come back to haunt you Brian.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back to the blog-My reasons for joining the strike today.

I've been a long time away from this blog so apologies to those who've continued to check in. I took a long break after the local elections (thanks to all who supported me by the way in retaining my Borough Council seat) and I'll write more about this in the coming days.

For now it's time to address a very difficult issue-that of today's public service strike. Those who believe that we in the public service strike at the drop of a hat should examine the track record of my own union, the Irish National Teachers Union which has been on strike twice in sixty years-in 1985 and 1946, and not at all since I began my teaching life in 1987.
In the meantime, my union has fought hard to secure a reasonable rate of pay by European teaching standards, particularly for young newly qualified teachers(if they're lucky enough to get a job). In the past twelve months however we've had a huge amount of that gain taken back from us to pay for the sins of the uncontrolled bankers and the property developers who borrowed from them to build tax-incentivised houses and hotels that nobody wanted.
Yet in the twelve months since the wheels came off the celtic tiger wagon, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's the doctors, nurses, firemen, civil servants and teachers who've bankrupted the country and not the crew who should have been admitted to gamblers anonymous.
It seemed that Brian Lenihan was getting the picture when he declared in April that almost half of the now-famous €4 Billion he needed to find would come from increased taxation on the wealthy but in the past month it's become clear that all the necessary money will come from cutbacks-in our pay, but more importantly in child benefit, social welfare rates, in health services, in rural transport schemes and loads of other public services.
A simple question for Brian-why no new taxes in the middle of a crisis?-why let the super-wealthy off scot-free? Who's callin the shots here? The crew from the tent at the Galway races again?
The nonsense that passes for certainty is also riling me and most other public servants. It goes something like-'Sure everyone's lsoing their jobs and everyon's taking a pay-cut. We're all in in together and we must all take the pain.
Well tell that to Seán Quinn's children with their multi-million pay-offs from their Daddy's companies while the bank that they virtually own is being kept afloat by me and you.
Compare and contrast our approach to that of Obama where US spending on education is being trebled this year to ensure that the recovery comes quicker.
It's time for a fairer country and in my view a turning away from the free-market capitalism and neo-conservative meanness that has almost destroyed our society as well as our economy.
That's why I'm standing up for fairness today. Neither my family or I can take the loss of a day's wages easily but I believe I owe it to my lower-paid colleagues and those who will come after us to make a stand. Come and join us if you can.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The political and the human-reflections on demotion of John

Tonight is a difficult one for John McGuinness TD, a political adversary in our constituency who has not been reappointed to a Junior Ministry by Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD. On a human level this is a difficult time for John, his wife Margaret and all the McGuinness family, including my council colleague and opponent in the forthcoming local elections, Andrew. It is never easy to lose a position which you feel you have secured on merit, and one in which you have worked hard and in which you feel you have done well.

It is also a frustrating time for the McGuinness half of the Fianna Fáil team in Kilkenny who thought that by succeeding in topping the poll in 2007, and in the process, helping to deliver three seats out of five that enough had been done to secure the first step on the ministerial ladder for a politician who is, without a shadow of a doubt, bright and articulate. Indeed the McGuinness lieutenant on the Borough Council, Cllr. Joe Reidy tonight said on local radio that the step to a senior ministry was one they thought would happen sooner rather than later. Those of us of all political persuasions hoped that a senior ministry would come to Kilkenny sooner rather than later, as it is now twenty seven years since we had that honour and all it brings with it.

On a political level however, I have had my differences with John McGuinness. I believe his attacks on public servants in last year's Sunday Independent interview were wrong and unfair, but as the 'pension levy' or public service tax as it should be called has proven, many in his own party agree, including the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach.

John believes in his right to speak out, but it is the ability to attack Government decisions which your party made and which you walked through the Dáil lobbies to vote for, which I and a huge number of the voters I am meeting on the doorstep find hardest to take.

When John announced on KCLR local radio on the morning of the latest budget that the Government 'had made a bags of the last budget', he failed to mention that he had voted for it and also robustly defended it in the local and national media.

John was defiant tonight on national television stating that he had 'not been elected to the Dáil to leave his brain outside the door'. With this we all agree, but we will continue to demand that he and every Fianna Fáil TD in Carlow/Kilkenny and in the country accept their responsibility for and are held accountable for things like axing the Christmas bonus for pensioners and social welfare recipients, increasing class sizes, hatcheting services in hospitals and health clinics, abandoning the Fair Deal for those in nursing homes etc. etc. etc. and of course standing over policies which have ended up with hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs.

If we didn't I'm sure John would be disappointed that we, like him, didn't use our brains and speak out to defend the weakest in our society who are being made pay for the sins of the free-market nonsense which his party has made such a boast of championing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

On this miserable day it's nice to see our former party leader back to his best in putting the Greens in their place at last. The interview with Mary White, our local toothless TD had to be seen to be believed, but is gone form the RTÉ website unfortunately. Meanwhile the vision of John and his bicycle clips will live almost as long in the memory as that of Mary O' Rourke in the bath-but not quite as frightening!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Reflections on Mullingar-Another conference of action

Free video chat by Ustream

Last weekend saw another successful chapter in our campaign to become the third party in a three party sytem and to break the mould of silly civil war politics. Another excellently received leader's speech by Eamon Gilmore meant that we weren't too disappointed by the poll setback on Sunday morning. Anyway, if we end up with between 17 and 20% in the elections on June 5th. I for one will be very happy.

The heart of the weekend's action for me was my campaign for re-election to the party's National Executive Committee. I was at a major disadvantage because of a difficulty getting local members to travel, but my friends elsewhere ensured I had enough number ones to see me home eventually. Thanks a million to Gary, Sadie and other party members for their support and to everybody who supported me with their preference votes. I look forward to representing my own local members and the views of other members at National level in what is sure to be an exciting time in politics.

As you'll see above I also got a chance to speak on Friday night on a motion on the Irish language and the Gaeltacht. Súil agam go n-aontaionn tú leis an méid a bhi le rá agam.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Secret of Kells-Téigh agus féach air

Tonight was one of those great mixtures of supporting a great local business success, the arts, a great cause and finally having a family night out in great company. It was the Kilkenny launch of The Secret of Kells, a truly ambitious project by an equally ambitious bunch of young men and women who make up Cartoon Saloon, an animation company quickly garnering a huge international reputation for itself.
The night was also a fundraiser for the company that in many ways spawned Cartoon Saloon, the wonderful Young Irish Film Makers, founded by local man, Mike Kelly in the early nineties. It is a film school, teaching young people a phenomenal range of skills which they would find impossible to access in most other towns or indeed in major cities. The lads in the Saloon started their careers with YIFM, and are now on the verge of major stardom. They were effusive in their praise of Mike tonight though and well deserved too.
To all those involved, Paul Young, Ross Stewart, Ross Murray and Tomm Moore, best of luck at the box office this weekend. This magical movie of a story based on the wrting of the Book of Kells shouldn't be missed by anybody, young or old. Each scene looks like a Ross Stewart painting, full of magical Celtic imagery, and the action is rollercoaster as well as beautiful.

Ag an deireadh mile maith agat do Tomm, a bhean iontach Liselott agus a mhac briomhar, Ben, as ucht a dtacaiocht i nGaelscoil Osrai thar na blianta. Táimid an-bhródúil as ucht an méid atá bainte amach agaibh go dti seo, agus go n-eiri libh as seo amach.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

100,000 voices speak-let's make them 100,000 votes for change

Today the workers of Ireland spoke in a way they haven't for almost thirty years. Workers from North and South, public sector and private united in telling our Government to take a hike. I joined Trade Union colleagues and fellow Labour members from Kilkenny and all over the country in what was an unprecedented show of unity. To a person every worker I met had no problem playing their part in the recovery of our economy but fairness was the word on everybody's lips. In David Begg's words it's time for those who made the mess to pay. Now it's time to make this Governent pay. Public sector workers can't continue to vote for Fianna Fail and the Greens and expect anything to change. We have the alternative and workers need to realise that without changing your vote, you change nothing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quote of the day-on the fiddle

Having a day out in the big smoke today and quote of the day goes to an employee of an establishment near the National Concert Hall. Having enquired about the music on offer tonight, he smiled. It's the National Symphony Orchestra sponsored by Anglo Irish Bank says he." Probably a FIDDLE concert". Having listened to Ulick MacAvaddey's bullshit on
Pat Kenny, a bit of common sense was a welcome relief.

Support the National Demonstration-Show the Fat Cats

This video says it all. Let's join the ICTU national demonstration on Saturday and show the fat cats and their buddies in Government, particularly our own Junior Minister John McGuinness, that we will not sit idly by while the Anglo Ten, Seán Fitzpatrick, Quinn, Dunne or whoever get off scot-free while we as workers pick up the tab for the mess they've landed us in.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cill Chainnigh Beo-Welcome to Kilkenny Alive

A very warm welcome to a new online newspaper, Kilkenny Alive which hit cyberspace today. Already thousands of people have clicked into this new service. Two very experienced journalists, former Kilkenny People editor, Seán Hurley, and former Kilkenny Voice editor, Jimmy Rhatigan are behind this vneture and I wish them well.

I missed their launch last week as I had slightly more romantic things to do on the 14th of February, but I have decided to support the venture by taking the main ad space on the home page. If you're coming to this site from the ad, you're very welcome. If you log on to the new e-zine facility on my main website, I'll keep you up to date on my campaign. Meanwhile happy reading of Kilkenny Alive. The more diverse our local media is, the better for all of us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Straight Talking-Eamon calls it on the pension levy while civil servants decide to take action

Here is Eamon Gilmore's speech last night proposing the Labour Party's motion calling for the rejection of the Government's proposed levy on public servants. Our case has never been that public servants shouldn't contribute to the recovery of our economy, despite the fact that they had precious little to do with the mess we now find ourselves in. It is the total unfairness of the Government's remedy that Eamon highlights here.

This unfairness is why I will join the thousands of other civil servants, gárdai, nurses, prison officers and others on Saturday at the national demonstration in Dublin. We hope that many private sector workers will join us on the basis that they will be next. We must not allow this rotten Government to row back on the working conditions that our trade unions have fought for for generations.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Something different-giving the dates to the GAA fans

Great fun today outside Nowlan Park, the home of Kilkenny hurling and named after a great Kilkenny patriot. I had just received a good leaflet with all the Kilkenny fixtures for the year in hurling and football (I know, I saw the result against Waterford today!) for 2009. Thanks to Alan for the idea by the way!!

I must say they went down really well and there was great craic and comment on the poll during the week. There's a real confidence amongst our own supporters but also a real sense that others are rallying to us-and some of them very unexpected!

So onwards we go. I'll be back at the same venue in two weeks time for the Tipp game doing the same thing-come along and help if you can. In the meantime, the last of the calendars will be gome tomorrow and with them some of the new campaign/recruitment leaflets.
Of course equally importantly Kilkenny squeezed out a tight one-point win against the Treaty men. Tús maith go dti seo.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Reflections on a crazy week- Let's fight to make it different

Tonight I watched Brian Lenihan who's supposed to know what's going on in our country and economy and Eamon Gilmore on the Week in Politics programme and I saw why the people I've met on the street are really connecting with the Labour Party and its leader. Putting it simply, Eamon wiped the floor with Lenihan in a calm, rational and yet really passionate way. In that he has been joined by Joan Burton, who's now coming across as the only really knowledgeable voice on the economic front. It took her questioning to discover during the week that the pension levy would be tax deductible and therefore would bring in far less than the Government pretended.

Put simply this has been a week which typifies all that is rotten about this Government. The politics of the soft touch has seen people like myself and others on far lower rates of pay than mine scapegoated by this Government.

Of course our local Junior Minister John McGuinness started the softening up process months ago with his mean-spirited attack on public servants. The media has fallen for this spin hook, line and sinker, making it so easy to attack us this week. The unfairness of it all was brilliantly described by SIPTU's Jack O' Connor on Wednesday when he said that a public servant on €40,000 would now pay an extra 7% of their salary effectively in tax, while a self-employed hospital consultant in a private hospital would pay an extra 2% on a salary of €250,000 a year. Worse still the property developers and the bankers who brought us to this mess get off scot-free.

I for one hope that my colleagues across the public service now revolt. We don't mind paying our share in a difficult situation but let's see others bear the pain also.

For now it's time for us to organise to get this shower out. This month Labour are asking you to get involved. If you're in Kilkenny please contact me to join the Labour Party and get involved. If you're anywhere else click here to sign up. The time for talking and criticising is over-the time for action is now and you can play your part.

Bí linn agus is féidir linn

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nationalising the banks comrades- Sure tis a great thing altogether now!

In the bad old days the biggest insult you could throw at the Labour Party was that they wanted to 'Nationalise the Banks'. The implication was that the horrible old socialists would rob all your money and take it out of your life savings account and throw it all away on nasty things like school classrooms and hospital beds.
Now take a look at the smiling man here and reflect! The face of 'Ireland Inc.', the epitome of all that was great in Irish life in the Celtic Tiger period was Mr. Fitzpatrick, when all of us who warned that our ten-year party was based on what David McWilliams called the greatest pyramid selling scheme in the history of capitalism were dismissed as pessimists who were 'talking down the economy'. And what was he up to all along-why feathering his own nest of course, along with a whole lot of other chancers. And what must we do now? Well Cowen and Lenihan first ask us to shell out a fortune to bail out the nice lads at Anglo, and then, sure we might as well buy it altogether sure!
Ten years ago you'd have been sent off to the Celtic Tiger gulag for unsound and unpatriotic people for suggesting nationalising anything-'give it to Michael O' leary-he'll show you how to do it' was the refrain. Remember now when Labour opposed the sell-off of Trustee Savings Bank from the state: 'Sure what would the state be doing running a bank?!!', the sneering fatcats chortled. Well how's about to put manners on a few people and to have a bit of financial ethics around the place as an answer?
Now is the time for this Government to get off its complacent backside and to engage in a real public debate about where we go next. I believe that what my party is proposing is the way to go. Let's stimulate the economy just as Obama and Brown are doing. Let's get building and creating, and if we have to borrow to give people hope and dignity back, let's do so. Staying stuck in the same old Thatcherite slash and burn policies of the 80's will plunge us deeper into darkness and will set our recovery back year.
Who do you trust more on this choice- Obama, Brown and Gilmore or Cowen, Lenihan and indeed Kenny?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tony Gregory- a decent man but tough opponent

The death of Tony Gregory this week was not unexpected to those of us in political circles but has taken most people by surprise. The last time I met him was at the launch of the book dedicated to Seamus Pattison's life in politics in Dail Eireann back in October. Tony looked visibly ill at the time but still had that twinkle in his eye.
I began my political life in Dublin Central. I knew Tony's core team members like Mick Rafferty, Seanie Lambe and of course my union colleague and now TD Finian McGrath. They were a hugely committed group of people who worked their socks off for what was then and still is the most deprived part of the country.

They were joined in that work by a series of Labour Party figures, most notably Joe Costello TD, his wife Emir and many others. In fact Dublin Central Labour has produced two other TD's who moved to neighbouring constituencies in Roisin Shortall and Joan Burton and the writer as a Councillor in Carlow/Kilkenny.
Tony was buried today in Dublin and as usual had the last word. The tribute speech at his final mass castigated those politicians who praised him loudly in the past week but had done so little to support those he represented during his lifetime in politics.

A real tribute to Tony Gregory would be the ending of the endemic poverty of the North and South Inner cities in Dublin, in Southill and Moyross in Limerick and in countless other ghettoes of local authority housing in our cities and towns, including here in Kilkenny.

The hypocrisy of a right-wing media which canonises Gregory, idolises Joe Higgins, but continues to attack real radical and left-wing policy aternatives to our current outdated Thatcherite economic model is also breathtaking. The attitude seems to be that a few colourful socialists in the Dail are OK but not if the things they believe in come close to be implemented.

Let's remember that the aim of Connolly and Larkin whose starry plough flag draped Tony Gregory's coffin today was the transformation of Irish society to win equality for all.

Ar dheis De go raibh anam Tony ach go dtiocfadh a chuid aidhmeanna i bhfeidhm chomh luath agus gur feidir.